'Multivoting' improves group decision-making, study finds

"Multivoting" — allowing people more than one vote so they can select multiple options if desired — is most effective in finding the "best choice," according to a recent study from the University of Washington in Seattle. 

The study, published by the Academy of Management Discoveries, asked 93 groups of undergraduate students to identify the biggest threat in a group of three simulated, suspected terrorists. First, they took an unofficial vote. Then, they discussed the results before casting a final group vote. Because no group member had all the information on one terrorist, group members had to share information with each other during their discussion. 

Thirty-one percent of teams that used plurality voting — in which voters were given only one option — identified the correct suspect. 

Thirty-two percent of teams that used ranked-choice voting — in which voters ordered their preferences from first to last — identified the correct suspect. 

Forty-five percent of teams that used multivoting identified the correct suspect, making them 50 percent more likely to select the right option than the ranked-choice and plurality teams. 

"We see multivoting as primarily useful for decision-making groups in workplaces," Michael Johnson, PhD, co-author of the study and professor of management in the university's business school, said in an Oct. 26 article on the university's website.

"Wherever groups feel like it’s going to be critical to get a decision right, use multivoting as an unofficial vote, look at the distribution and discuss after that. It works where people are motivated to vote consistent with what they really think rather than trying to strategically vote to counter another person." 

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